Why it’s important to print your images

8 September 2017

In today's “right now” digital world, all too often the value, luxury and longevity of the printed image is forgotten and replaced with a USB or hard drive of photos that sit in a folder on your computer or in your drawer never to be fully appreciated. Whether you're just starting out and that photography bug has you photographing everything that moves or you're a seasoned professional want to share something a little confronting with you.
Recently I had the privilege of photography a lovely mature couple celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary and what I say quickly altered my perception of the importance of printing photographs.
I mainly photograph weddings and I always try to educate my couples on the value and the importance of investing in a wedding album and now I have some wonderful insights to support that.

Why it’s important to print your imagesWhy it’s important to print your images

Meet Kaye & Ralph, a lovely couple happily married for 50 years and counting!

While photographing this wonderful occasion I came across a table with the usual gold 50th Anniversary five zero balloons, but what was unusual was the old telegrams, a family tree written on paper, old photographs and the star of the show.
It was such an eye opening experience, paper telegrams replaced by emails and texts, printed photos replaced by 1’s and 0’s on an electronic device but the one thing that can never be replaced or out dated was that amazing wedding album.

Why it’s important to print your imagesWhy it’s important to print your images

“That sole experience reinforced to me just how valuable and timeless that album was and why I feel compelled to give that gift of tangible memories to my couples”

With so much focus these days on digital storage. There are all sorts of suggestions out there: cloud, flash drive, photo storage companies. It can leave you feeling like you need backups of our backups and then backups of them!

But what good is a stored photo that you don’t ever see?

Whether you remember the days of film or not, there’s an important message to be learned from those days: that is, we didn’t focus on storing our negatives in multiple ways and multiple formats in multiple devices. The focus was actually on the photographs, sharing them with those around you and having them on display as a reminder of a moment in time passed.

“Your photos will have more meaning and value for the people who are not in them.”

Over the years I've discovered and learned that when I photograph my clients, I know those photos I take are not only for the clients, on many occasions those photos will have more meaning for the people who are not in them. The true beauty of a printed image means we could all reach out and physically touch something that represents someone we love, we lost or something we cherish frozen in time forever, never to age and never to be forgotten.

“While ever your photos remain in a digital form they are not really a photograph, they are just a series of 1’s and 0’s waiting to be turned into a photograph, but the scariest thing of all is, eventually your devices will fail and you’ll lose those memories.”

Kaye & Ralph’s amazing 50-year-old wedding album.

This amazing album was just exquisite. The posing was very traditional, its pages were heavy, its beautiful black and whites filled it with a timeless charm while the few hand coloured pages gave it an element of intrigue that you could not look past. The cover bound in white textured leather with gold embossing encased seven captivating double page spreads with the images printed and then mounted under photo mattes laminated to a thick core on each page.

The manufacturing quality of this book can only be described as being state of the art for its time, while it has aged (very gracefully I might add) this stunning work of art has been looked at, valued, admired and loved for 50 years and when Kaye & Ralph’s great grandchildren open up this book, see and smell its history I'm sure it will be loved and admired in the same way for another 50 years. Unfortunately, most people I talk to have a lot of files, but very few photos and if challenged many cannot prove they actually existed on the planet if they lost all their digital files.
That's just crazy!

Why it’s important to print your imagesWhy it’s important to print your images
Why it’s important to print your imagesWhy it’s important to print your images

"I actually had a couple come to my studio to pick up their wedding album and they chose to bring their one and a half year old with them. Upon opening up the album and presenting a page of mummy and daddy to their son, he looked and then promptly tried to swipe the page to get to the next image like an iPad…In that very moment, I made a vow to myself that I would always educate my couples on the value of their investment, if not for them, for their families."

Our memories are better, our connections are better when we see and hold a photo. It’s easy to re-live a moment when you’re seeing it again, especially if it has details (memories) recorded along with it, like opening up an old album and smelling your old childhood home, there is a certain charm and grace that accompanies that moment.
When I talk about photos in “print,” that can mean hanging them on your walls, putting them in albums, scrapbooks or simply a modern coffee table book that showcases your trip to New York or that family holiday in Bali. It's so easy and your local Teds Camera’s can do it for you.

We don’t actually know how long modern storage will work effectively for, however on average hard drives can last around 5 years, DVDs can last 7, and flash drives about 8 (before data on them can be corrupted). We don't know what modern technology is capable of so it's a fair question to ask, that could all those devices be the VHS tape of photo storage in ten years?

Why it’s important to print your imagesWhy it’s important to print your images
Why it’s important to print your imagesWhy it’s important to print your images

So how long does a printed photo last?

Did you know a printed photo can last upwards of 200 years?! There are photos from the 1800s that are still in existence. Their current state is dependent on their exposure to the elements, of course, and how well they were taken care of, but printed photos can last a long time. Here is challenging question for you, can you prove you existed on the planet if your technology was lost forever? If you answered no, then it's time you printed some of those memories. Remember if not for you for your children, for your grandchildren. 

What will be your legacy, a USB that probably won't work or a charming book that represents you, your life and accomplishments, your love, snapshots in time of moments that will never age?

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